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One in three people gets lower back pain each year - and the 4 million of us who work from home are particularly at risk, yet do nothing to protect our spines. Here’s how to protect yourself
Compiled by Jo Willacy. Photograph Getty

JOHN O’DOWD is a consultant spinal surgeon at London Bridge Hospital and has a clinic in Harley Street. He is also president for the Society of Back Pain Research

1 Live a healthy lifestyle

Current research suggests most of the risk factors for back pain are genetic and inherited, and that your chances of developing back problems are genetically pre-determined. Where genetic factors appear most dominant is where there is degenerative change or ageing in the spine. Genetic factors are more dominant in people with significant back pain – people whose pain is bad enough for them to visit a doctor, see a physio or take time off work. However, when it comes to day-to-day minor aches, lifestyle factors, such as lack of exercise, smoking and obesity, are more prevalent. For most episodes of acute back pain, half will settle in four weeks, but for up to 20 percent of people, pain will persist for more than a year.

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About Healthy Magazine

We’re staying #Hotandhealthy in the August issue of healthy. This issue we’re talking about sex: from the results of our sex survey – and how to stay satisfied between the sheets – to our deliciously satisfying, sexy salads to sustain you while the sun shines. We explore how to put heart into mindfulness, brush up on how to really listen, and ask what’s the best age to live to? We have expert advice on how to look and feel your best, from ethical beauty buys through to help for allergies and strategies for backache. Plus, we examine whether splashing out on exercise gear equals a better workout?